Harlan County magistrate passes away, Miller appointed

Published 5:20 pm Monday, January 30, 2023

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Harlan County District 1 Magistrate Clark “Sparky” Middleton passed away suddenly on Jan. 24, leaving a vacant seat on the Harlan County Fiscal Court.

According to Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley, Middleton leaves a significant impression on those he worked with during his time on the court.

“Clark “Sparky” Middleton had just started his ninth year as a magistrate in Harlan County,” Mosley said. “He served the people well. He had a tremendous heart for public service.”

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Mosley mentioned Middleton previously served in multiple public service positions, including as a Harlan County Constable.

“He loved operating heavy equipment,” Mosley remembered. “We consulted him frequently when we had problems with equipment or road issues involving slides. He had worked in the mining industry for years and could fix almost anything. He was a trusted adviser on things like that.”

Mosley said that Middleton was a valued member of the Harlan County Fiscal Court.

“He was a friend to us. We’ve had a lot of good laughs and memories through the years,” Mosley said. “He’s gone too soon. We’re going to miss him. He cared a lot about the people of his district.”

Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Friday appointing city of Harlan resident Robert Leo Miller to fill Middleton’s seat on the Harlan County Fiscal Court.

“Robert Leo Miller is a resident in the city of Harlan,” Mosley said. “His wife Amy is an accountant here in town, and they’ve got three children that attend Harlan Elementary School.”

Mosley noted Miller had been involved in public service for some time.

“He ran for Circuit Court Clerk several years back,” Mosley said. “He’s also been involved locally in the Democratic Executive Committee. He’s someone who’s always been interested in public service.”

Mosley explained it is the governor’s responsibility to fill vacancies such as this on fiscal courts when they occur.

“(Miller) will serve through the November election, then the election will determine who serves the remaining three years of the unexpired term,” Mosley explained. “The executive committees of the Democrat and Republican parties determine who the nominees are for that role.”

Miller was sworn in on Monday by Circuit Court Judge Kent Hendrickson.